CRANS-SUR-SIERRE, Switzerland – Miguel Angel Jimenez shot a 10-under 61 to take a three-stroke halfway lead Friday in the European Masters.
The 46-year-old Spaniard had two eagles to produce the lowest score of his 28-year professional career in the build-up to his fourth Ryder Cup appearance at Celtic Manor next month.
It also lowered the course record from the 62 shot by Eduardo Romero in 2000.
However, Jimenez’s failure to record sub-par scores on the final three holes at the Crans-Sur-Sierre cost him two more possible accolades.
With one birdie he could have become the 13th player on the European Tour to shoot 60 and with two birdies he would have been the first to shoot a 59.
But it was not for a lack of trying.
Jimenez’s 32-foot effort on the 16th green stopped two inches from the hole, a 15-footer at the 17th lipped out and at the 18th he holed a four-footer just to save par.
Although low scores are not considered records when preferred lies are in operation at tournaments, European Tour and course officials agreed that Jimenez’s score will count as a personal best and a course record because the preferred lies rule was in effect on just one hole.
The tree lined par four sixth hole at the Crans course this week utilized preferred lies because of a damp and shaded fairway.
Jimenez said that toward the end of his round he was shooting for a record.
“I played pretty solid,” he said. “And then had two eagles and after I hit my three wood to within two feet at the 14th I thought a little bit about a 59.
“I was certainly trying for it with those putts at the 16th and 17th. And I was really pleased to play so well up here at Crans.”
It was the eagle at the 14th that finally broke an Italian monopoly at the top of the leaderboard.
Earlier in the day, Edoardo Molinari had posted the clubhouse lead at 11-under after shooting a 65 and completing two rounds without a bogey.
He was later joined in the lead by 17-year-old Matteo Manasssero who needs a top-five finish on Sunday to secure his playing rights for 2011.
Manasssero reached 12 under with an eagle of his own when he chipped in from the back of the 15th green, but a dropped shot at the 17th and a 67 dropped back into a share of second place with Molinari.
A 4-under 67 from Finland’s Mikko Ilonen was good for fourth place at 10 under, one shot ahead of England’s Graeme Storm who shot a 68.
Among the players who did not make the cut was 55-year-old Australian Greg Norman, making his first appearance in a year after shoulder surgery. He missed the cut, set at 1 under, by nine shots after shooting two rounds of 75.